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Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush paints the town black

Red Fuse Communications has designed an innovative, disruptive campaign turning everyday objects black in colour, to launch Colgate’s new ‘charcoal’ toothbrush. The execution was done by Candid Marketing

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | August 19, 2014


Remember the story about King Midas in which everything he touched turned into gold? Oral care brand Colgate gave that story a spin and turned everyday objects black, raising quite a few eyebrows in Mumbai.

The disruptive activity was carried out to launch the brand’s new toothbrush – the Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal – based on the traditional oral care benefits of charcoal. It is touted as India’s first and only toothbrush with super slim tip bristles which are infused with charcoal.

The innovative campaign was created by WPP's full service agency, Red Fuse Communications, and executed by Candid Marketing.

More than the technology, the colour of the toothbrush bristles is what makes it stand out. Instead of the regular white bristles, this one is literally 'charcoal' black. And that’s the peg the creative agency latched on to.

The problem with the toothbrush category is that people seldom remember the brand name. This low recall extends to the problem that word of mouth is practically unheard of in this segment. Therefore, Red Fuse Communications decided to create a disruptive campaign.

Shubha-George-cap“When it comes to toothbrushes, communication is often restricted to product benefits. Over the years, brand Colgate has become synonymous with offering innovative and technologically-advanced products, just like Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal. This toothbrush has unique characteristics – black and super slim bristles – which showed potential to be explored innovatively. We leveraged the ‘black quotient’ of the toothbrush with #whattheblack. A black-bristled toothbrush is both extraordinary and unexpected. So are black eggs, black newspapers and black tissue papers. The aim here was to create an element of surprise by amazing the target audience with these items, ultimately revealing the black-bristled Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush,” explained Shubha George, CEO India, Red Fuse Communications.

The 'What the black' campaign created a buzz within the media industry. Kits were sent to media houses, bloggers and corporate leaders to generate curiosity. One day an egg turned black, and the next day there were tissue papers and paper cups turning black. On the third day, newspaper front pages had turned black, and by then people had started commenting about it on digital and social media. By day four, when the actual launch happened, the campaign had reached 200 key opinion leaders (KOL).

"Black bristles in a category associated with white bristles are highly disruptive and this presented Colgate with an opportunity of creating brand visibility and advocacy through disruptive communication techniques. To bring this alive, the approach was to generate curiosity and intrigue amongst the key opinion leaders. The objective of the campaign was to create schema disruption, leveraging the colour black. All the campaign elements were tagged with the hashtag ‘whattheblack’ to further amplify visibility on digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. The campaign moniker #whattheblack, through the digital platforms, further assisted in developing user generated content. The campaign that was initially targeted towards 200 KOLs got amplified to 23.8 million consumers! Never before witnessed in this category using an innovative approach such as this to generate brand advocacy," said a spokesperson from Colgate.

Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal features ultra-fine, tapered bristles, less than 0.01mm in size. With these bristles, the toothbrush softly sweeps away food particles trapped in narrow gaps between the teeth and gums. These bristles are further coated with charcoal to help in the removal of plaque bacteria, which poses a threat to oral health. The toothbrush also features a slim neck, designed to enable easy manoeuvring in the mouth.

According to Amrita Kumar, Managing Partner, Candid Marketing, “The launch of Colgate Slim Soft Charcoal was an execution-heavy campaign. It required reaching out to a huge number of KOLs within tight delivery timelines across the country. The challenge was to present everyday ‘white’ items as ‘black’. As we explored probable options, we experimented in turning favourite originals – vanilla ice cream and white mint – into a black avatar, without losing out the traditional flavours. As we assessed available options, we finally zeroed in on daily items such as eggs, newspapers, tissue papers and paper cups. It was critical to ensure that all the items were delivered simultaneously to the KOLs across the country, in order to reveal the toothbrush on the final day."


Client: Colgate

Creative Agency: Red Fuse Communications

CEO: Shubha George

Business Director, Advertising: Naina Shewakramani

Account Management: Rohit Vaswani

Art: Ankit Doshi, Devang Palan

Copy: Shweta Menon

Marketing Agency: Candid Marketing

Managing Partner: Amrita Kumar

Account Management: Utsav Parekh

Senior Account Manager: Pratik Singhania

Operations: Tushar Gunjal and Ali Akbar

Creative Team: Roshan and Ruman

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